The American Alpine Club has posted more information on its website about the organization’s shift from offering rescue insurance as a member benefit to a rescue ‘service’ managed by Global Rescue Worldwide.
While AAC’s original rescue insurance was hardly a perfect solution, it was one of a very few affordable insurance options—especially for climbers who live in the U.S. The original benefit was automatic for AAC members, and provided (I believe) up to $5000 in rescue insurance to pay for S&R costs associated with climbing accidents. For some climbers, myself included, AAC’s insurance benefit made the otherwise pricey $75.00 per year member dues look attractive.
Among the shortcomings of the AAC insurance was its lack of options. You couldn’t upgrade to more expansive plans, for example. Additionally, the total payout each year was capped at a specific limit member-wide, meaning if AAC paid out its limit to other members prior to your mishap in any given year, you were out of luck.
This year, AAC has dropped its rescue insurance plan. The replacement is a Global Rescue Service much like the American Auto Club. At least at first, AAC seemed a little overly enthusiastic about Global Rescue, given that it really isn’t a true replacement for insurance (more…)
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The San Francisco Chronicle reports two missing skiers have been found after they became lost in the backcountry near Alpine Meadows ski resort.
Both men are described as experienced adventure skiers, though according to the article, they did not intend to leave the resort on the day they became lost. Weather conditions were particularly foul that day, with high winds, a sustained blizzard, and white-out conditions. They apparently were unfamiliar with the resort and surrounding geography, and passed unaware beyond the boundary while skiing expert terrain in the blizzard.
What followed was a two day and two night ordeal in which they dug snow caves and slept on pine boughs, melted snow for water in plastic baggies, and followed a river downstream through heavy snow until a rescue helicopter spotted them. Aside from typical alpine ski gear and clothing, they had no backcountry equipment with them. The skiers certainly deserve credit for their survival skills, which kept them alive in life-threatening circumstances (more…)
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Few goals captured the imagination like the first ascent of Mount Everest, at 29,035′ the highest point on Earth. Early attempts to climb Everest were turned back with a vehemence than soon had many believing the mountain could not be climbed. And then, in May of 1953, a New Zealander named Edmund Hillary and his Sherpa guide Tenzing Norgay became the first to stand atop Everest’s summit (more…)
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The funny thing is, initially this didn’t even strike me as that big of a milestone. I mean, oil has been hovering around the $70-80 per barrel price for so long (relatively speaking), that I’d gotten used to the idea.
But wait a minute—only a few years ago, I believe the OPEC nations were saying that the ideal price would be in the $30 per barrel range, and that they would adjust production as needed to keep the price there.
In case you’re wondering why OPEC would want to keep prices down, the thinking at that time was that higher prices would lead to unwanted consequences, such as conservation, people driving less, buying more efficient vehicles, and turning to other energy sources. So OPEC wanted to keep the price of oil in that sweet spot where they charged as much as possible without damaging consumption—those old ‘maximize the function’ problems that you hated so much in college math class.
So why are oil prices now some three times higher? A big part of the answer has to be growth in the developing world… (more…)
Yes, the winds of change are blowing. SierraDescents.com has moved its blog to a brand new folder, managed by the ubiquitous content management software solution, WordPress.
I’ve been mulling this over for a while, now. It’s been a long time coming. Trying to manage a blog by hand (as I had been doing it) was an ever-growing exercise in futility. With WP doing most of the work, I’ll be free to post as I please, which is sure to guarantee a prodigious rise in both my output and inanity.
Also of note, with a dedicated blog section, I think I’ll relax my normally-merciless standards of professionalism, making the blog a more casual endeavor filled with all those off-the-cuff posts I thought about making but never actually got around to.
For my one dedicated critic, yes, you may now comment to your heart’s desire. So can the rest of you, if you care to. SierraDescents has officially gone 2.0, with RSS and all those other goodies. Whatever they are. Get jiggy with it, as they say.
I’m also going back in time and digging up all the old SierraDescents posts from the past two years that have been languishing in the ether of my hard drive. Want to know what I was up to in July 2006? Now it’s just a click away…though, seriously, is anyone really curious about that?
So, enough with the introductions. Here’s to a New Year of blogging, and hopefully a big year of climbing and skiing! Let’s get started…
Well, it’s here. The new, merged Backcountry-Couloir Magazine arrived in the mail this week. I don’t usually cheer mergers, so I wasn’t exactly leaping for joy when I heard that the venerable Couloir Mag (which began right here in SoCal) was going to be absorbed by Backcountry. I’m sort of the sentimental type, especially when it comes to blood-sweat-and-tears efforts like Couloir, which Craig Dostie built from a xerox newsletter into the “Earn Your Turns” classic we all know and love.
But, Couloir is gone now, which at least relieves us of the burden of having to decide which of the two mags to subscribe to (and feeling guilty about jilting the other). The addition of Couloir’s talent to the Backcountry pool certainly extends the magazine’s reach, offering the promise of better, richer coverage of the backcountry skiing world.
The debut issue features an extended 2008 gear review section, and an interesting article on a new avalanche terrain rating system that Canada is trying out. Overall, the new mag looks a lot like the old Backcountry Magazine, so if you’re pining away for Couloir, I recommend moping for a while—and then ordering up a Backcountry subscription.
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Mammoth Mountain will contribute 100% of lift ticket sales on Friday, April 14, to help support the families of the three patrollers who died last week.
James Juarez, John Scott McAndrews, and Charles Walter Rosenthal (President and a founding member of the Eastern Sierra Avalanche Center) were killed while trying to fence off a hidden snow cavern created by a volcanic gas vent near Mammoth’s Face Lift.
If you’re unable to ski Mammoth Mountain, you can still participate in this extraordinary tribute by purchasing a lift ticket for Friday online. Mount Rose will also donate 100% of Friday’s lift ticket sales, and Vail Resorts and Aspen Ski Company will be making contributions.
The tragedies of this season remind us how fragile and precious life truly is. Let us remember to keep family and friends dear, reject fear and foolishness, and make our time count—on the mountain and off. Hope to see you at Mammoth!
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Multiple sources are confirming that Doug Coombs has been killed while skiing in La Grave, France. Coombs apparently slipped and fell while trying to aid a friend who had just fallen over a cliff. Coombs, 48, was one of the giants of American extreme skiing. Unlike many of his contemporaries, he eschewed the flashier side of the sport, preferring instead to focus on ski mountaineering and guiding (more…)
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It’s been a long time coming! When I first moved to California, merging my writing and photography into a website about backcountry skiing in the Sierra Nevada seemed a fine idea…I just never got around to actually doing it. The Sierra Nevada rightly intimidated me. Unlike the forgiving playground of my home town mountains, the Sierra are vast, remote, technical, the realm of the mountaineer (more…)